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Hinksey Halt

Halts were miniature railway stations, with a single platform and a shelter. They were built when steam railmotors were introduced in Oxford in 1908 to provide local railway services between the suburbs and the main railway stations in the centre of town, and between Oxford and several outlying villages.

Hinksey Halt South Oxford OS 1921 Hinksey Halt path northern end of Wytham Street

Hinksey Halt was approached by a path running south-west from the northern end of Wytham Street, crossing the southern tip of Hinkey Lake. The halt, and the path leading to it, can be seen on the extract from the 1921 Ordnance Survey map above left; the path (above right) still exists. Iron gateposts and railings along the left-hand side of this path, and along the eastern side of the footpath leading north from here, may well be remnants of the original railway.

In order to reach the halt on the western side, it was necessary to walk across the tracks on a level crossing. On 4th March 1914 Thomas Heath, who was landlord of the Old Berkshire House pub on the Abingdon Road, was killed at the crossing. He was 59. His widow Lucy was paid £5 by the Great Western Railway company as "a gratuity towards funeral expenses".

Abingdon Road Halt Cold Harbour OS 1921There was another halt further out along the Great Western Railway (GWR) line, near the southern end of the Abingdon Road, near Red Bridge. It can be seen on the extract from the 1921 Ordnance Survey map left [although by the time this map was made, both Hinksey and Abingdon Road Halts had closed - see below].

The fare by railmotor from Hinksey Halt to Oxford railway station was 1.5d and from Abingdon Road Halt to Oxford it was 2d.

[Rail motor car]

A rail motor. Image from Laurence Waters, Rail Centres: Oxford (Ian Allen, 1986).

Railmotors (right) had the engine and the carriages all in one vehicle. They each weighed 45 tons, were 74ft long, and comprised an engine room at one end, then a luggage van, a smokers' compartment for 22 people, an entrance vestibule, the main compartment for 36 people, and lastly the driver’s cabin, from where he controlled the driving and heating gear. They were as fast as ordinary passenger trains. A recently-restored steam railmotor can be seen at Didcot Railway Centre.

There were several other railmotor halts within or just outside the city boundaries. Oxford Road Halt, two miles north of Oxford on the road to Banbury, was opened in 1850 when the Buckinghamshire Railway reached there, and served as a temporary station for Oxford until the line was completed. When the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) began a service of steam rail-cars between Oxford and Bicester in 1905 the halt was reopened to serve Cutteslow and Jordan Hill. Wolvercote Halt opened in 1905 and Summertown Halt, approached by Aristotle Lane, opened a year later; it was renamed Port Meadow Halt in 1907. All three of these halts north of the city closed in 1926.

Iffley Halt and Garsington Road Halt were on the Great Western Railway's line to Princes Risborough and High Wycombe. Iffley Halt, built in 1908, was originally going to be called Oxford Sewage Bridge Halt, but someone thought better of it. It was on the west side of the river, next to the viaduct, on the south side of the track, and hence was rather inconvenient: villagers had to walk half a mile along the towpath and across the lock to reach it. The development of the Morris Motor and Pressed Steel works at Cowley resulted in the Garsington Road Halt being renamed Morris-Cowley station in 1928.

The halts at Hinksey, Abingdon Road and Iffley were short-lived: they closed in 1915, partly due to competition from newly-arrived motor buses on the streets of Oxford, introduced by an enterprising young businessman called William Morris (later Lord Nuffield).

For more information about Oxford halts, see: